Daily Archives: March 23, 2015

Mora Mora (Gently Gently) – Serge holds the course -

This morning, not such an early start, around 9H00, to the city center for the time it took to handle some e-mails and update the website because I know I would not have time this evening. Tamatava is the largest port of the country and it’s here that the majority of the freight enters. I was expecting a heavy concentration of cars and a dense population. Actually, this city of 210,000 inhabitants is rather calm, except near the markets when the Tuk-Tuk and Pedi cabs are part of the chaos.
Here’s this morning’s program: see a few maritime shipping companies, to begin with SDV, managed by Balloré Logistics, a French company that we tried unsuccessfully to contact in France. This company, which is well established in African Harbors, could have helped us with the logistics of the boat. If any of you has a contact we would be happy to have it!
The director of the agency, Mr. Dumont is busy and Mr. Didi explains that they only deal with import/export and asks me to see MSC, which handles the liaison Tamatave-Mahjanga. The reception at MSC is warmer, or at least the people I talk to listen attentively to my explanation of Serge’s project. The desire to help find a solution and to help us comes from Mr. James. After 45 minutes I leave with the confirmation that since the beginning of the year there is no maritime caboage between Tamatave and Mahajanga and shipping a container overland will be very expensive.
Why do we have to do all this research when we have already, or almost, arraigned for overland shipping with the precious help of Olivier of Malagasy Tours? I like to search for the best solutions, or at least the best compromise. The condition of the Malagasy roads worries me. Middleton will hiccup and it’s not reassuring. It will be impossible to send Middleton by sea, the only thing left to do is to have heavy insurance for overland transportation. We are going to have to wrap, pad and securely tie the boat to its trailer and the trailer to the truck so that nothing will move around inside. When I woke this morning I felt pressured and I am still pressured, I need to be reassured that this mission, which I call «Operation Middleton in Madagascar», will be well handled.
Gently Gently Laure
We finish by running some errands at the two supermarkets of the city and the bazaar, newly rehabilitated and by reconnoitering a spot where Middleton could land in Tamatave, in case it is impossible to land at Mahambo, to the north. Lastly, we try to find a solution for making cradles in order to place Middleton on the trailer so she will be more stable. At 15H00 we leave and I’m not completely satisfied with our searches and tribulations which have taken us almost 6 hours in Tamatave. I also know we must arrive at Mahanbo before nightfall to find our site and that we always spend a lot of time on the road.
Between Tamatave and Mahanbo, there is a series of streams and rivers, vegetation is dense and there are more houses at the road side than yesterday. In places the road runs along the ocean and I can imagine a small speck in the distance which is Serge and Middleton.
René and I build up our Malagasy vocabulary with Danz and Momo in the car. We also sample the fruit and cakes sold along the road. Danz explains that rice is ubiquitous and eaten morning, noon and night in Madagascar. It is served plain and you can dip it in bouillon. It is also used in pastry: the Codro Codro (O is pronounced ü) is rice paste, coconut milk, cinnamon and sugar; and the Kuba (see today’s photo), is rice paste in a crust of grilled and ground peanuts. These 2 pastries are cooked in a double boiler and are not very sweet.
16H45: arrival in Mahambo, 85 km to the north of Tamatave. It’s a seaside village with hotels and restaurants everywhere. The access to the beach frightens me because it is a track in a ravine and I don’t see how a ten ton truck carrying Middleton can use it. We find another track that is in better condition and which has a hotel with access to the sea. We meet Mr. Joseph, who greets us rather coolly before he understands our request and the object of our questioning about the possibility of loading a boat from his place. In the end, we talk a lot and make quite a bit of headway with him. He has a lot of important contacts in the neighborhood. He also has his own boat so he is used to getting a boat out of the water.
The cradles can’t be built until the boat and the trailer have arrived in Mahambo and we will not leave until Middleton is well tied down and packed. You can understand that once Serge is here, he will not leave at a gallop the next day. I’m eager to see how he will react to being on terra firma and standing up; he who said yesterday that he never stands in his boat, too much gyre and fear of falling into water. Every move is slow and planned beforehand. Today’s contacts with Serge were limited to a few minutes this morning and there was no network connection this afternoon. I haven’t had time to track him today because of travel. However, he is asking for news and how our prospecting went.
We finally unload our baggage and I feel fatigue and tension in the air.
Mora Mora